The course records were smashed in both the men’s and women’s races in Yangzhou on Sunday (20) at the Jianzhen International Half Marathon, thanks to Gladys Cherono and Nguse Amlosom. The quality of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race was by far the highest ever in its short history.
Last year, Ethiopian duo Yakob Jarso and Worknesh Degefa ran course records of 1:00:39 and 1:08:43 respectively to take the wins, but this year’s race demolished both records. The men’s race in particular was a fast one, with eight athletes running faster than 61 minutes, five of them dipping below the previous course record.
Jarso was not in this year’s race, but the winner was another experienced runner. Eritrean 27-year-old Amlosom was running his third half marathon of the season, but still managed a swift 1:00:08 to take the victory.
It was a marked improvement on last year’s performance, when he finished third in 1:00:46. Since then, he had set a personal best of 59:39 in Ras Al Khaimah earlier this year and finished fifth at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships last month, taking team gold.
Kenyan Edwin Rotich, running in Asia for the first time, was second in 1:00:17, just 18 seconds away from his 59:59 personal best set last month in Azkoitia. Compatriot Silas Chebogel clocked 1:00:22 for third place, just five seconds slower than his personal best from Berlin three weeks ago.
The best Ethiopian this time was Feyera Gemeda, who placed fourth in a personal best of 1:00:29. Kenyan John Loitang was fifth in a season’s best of 1:00:32.
In the women’s race, Worknesh Degefa tried to defend her 2013 title with a strong group of Ethiopians, but came short as world half-marathon champion Gladys Cherono took the victory, along with the course record.
The 30-year-old Kenyan clocked 1:08:16 for a clear win in her second half marathon in China, having also won in Zhuhai in 2011. Degefa finished second, almost a minute behind in 1:09:07, her third straight sub-70-minute performance of 2014.
Former 1500m specialist Meskerem Assefa completed her first ever half marathon in 1:09:10 for third place, while fellow Ethiopians Gulume Tollesa and Waganesh Mekasha, timed 1:09:28 and 1:09:30 respectively, were not far behind.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF
1 Nguse Amlosom (ERI) 1:00:08
2 Edwin Rotich (KEN) 1:00:17
3 Silas Chebogel (KEN) 1:00:22
4 Feyera Gemeda (ETH) 1:00:29
5 John Loitang (KEN) 1:00:32
6 Jacob Kendagor (KEN) 1:00:52
7 Tesfaye Abera (ETH) 1:00:57
8 Titus Masai (KEN) 1:00:58
9 Leul Gebrselassie (ETH) 1:01:00
10 Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (ERI) 1:01:37
1 Gladys Cherono (KEN) 1:08:16
2 Worknesh Degefa (ETH) 1:09:07
3 Meskerem Assefa (ETH) 1:09:10
4 Gulume Tollesa (ETH) 1:09:28
5 Waganesh Mekasha (ETH) 1:09:30
6 Joyce Kiplimo (KEN) 1:10:21
7 Peninah Kigen (KEN) 1:10:37
8 Nazret Weldu (ERI) 1:10:51
9 Pauline Muchiri (KEN) 1:11:36
10 Gladys Tarus 1:11:45